The Bumpy Road To AIP Pt 2

Harmony Hunter

This picture was taken just a few months after our move from Brisbane to the stunning Sunshine Coast in July 2014. We had taken a day trip up to the ranges and were visiting the breathtaking Maleny Botanical Gardens. If you are ever in this neck of the woods it’s a definite must-see!

You can see in this picture, despite my idyllic surroundings, I am looking very tired, this is evident with the dark circles around my eyes even showing through my make up. I was so pale drawn and so fatigued! The pain I was experiencing that day made it extremely difficult to explore the hilly landscape; I remember the walk back to the car took so long because I had to keep stopping to sit down and rest.

The subsequent stress of moving from our home in Brisbane with no real family or friend support was extremely stressful. Moving back to be by the ocean was a dream I had ever since I moved from the Gold Coast where I grew up in back in 1993. I was never a city girl I am definitely a beach gal! It’s where I have always felt the happiest and at peace.

It was literally a dream come true it was like we were on holidays every day, going to the beach and enjoying living the lifestyle I had dreamt of having again for 20 yrs! But, the fun and excitement soon started to wear off as the physical, mental and emotional exhaustion started to really take its toll. I was the sort of person that would mentally drive myself beyond the pain I was feeling and push through despite how awful I felt. Little did I realise how detrimental to my overall health living that way was and I now know it’s so common for people living with autoimmune diseases. They forever push themselves beyond their limits especially when it’s an invisible illness, you look generally well on the outside but no one really gets the struggle you are in living on the inside. I so desperately wanted to feel normal, I was forever putting on my mask to the outside world pretending that I was invincible and I can keep going no matter what.

Well, that plan wasn’t going to last for too much longer! Within weeks of arriving, I got a cold, no biggie. Then I had barely gotten over the cold and I got the flu really bad, I was down for weeks; I could barely get out of bed! This affected my husband’s job as sometimes he had to go in late, come home early or not even go to work at all! The simplest tasks were just so physically and mentally overwhelming for me. Then dealing with the guilt of laying in bed or the couch most of the day and trying to interact and be a good mum to my then precious 4 yr old boy was almost too much to bare!

Just as I thought I was recovering from the flu I then got Bronchitis followed by the worst bout of Tonsillitis of my life, then a stomach bug! Being constantly sick for months on end had all my other symptoms going into overdrive, my anxiety and the depression were crushing me, insomnia was worse, my pain was almost unbearable and I was taking Nurofen plus daily in a bid to just take the edge off but unknowingly pouring more fuel on the fire. My moods and snappiness were out of control and the forever constant guilt and shame of not being a good enough wife and mother were forever in the forefront of my mind. When I occasionally had the strength or pushed through my fog to go out and do something with my son Aden, it had to planned with almost military precision, every little detail had to be pre-planned so I could get through it with the little energy I had. I was done, I was quite literally at the end of my rope. I really didn’t know how much more I could endure and the grief of what I was putting my precious little boy and husband through was just too much to live with.

Even though I was still phone consulting with my integrated doctor in Brisbane nothing he was doing was helping. My condition was so unstable it was like being on a never-ending roller coaster of very small improvements followed by an even longer devastating low. I was beyond desperate at this point I was willing to do or try anything to help get my life back, so through the ridiculous amount of brain fog and fatigue, I hit the net searching for answers.

An amazing person I had met who was another autoimmune warrior with coeliac disease, and became a dearly loved friend, mentioned that she had gone paleo. At the time I thought I had a really clean healthy organic diet devoid of processed foods and never ever ate junk food. It honestly didn’t occur to me that the so-called healthy foods I was eating were, in fact, making me so sick!! Then in my research frenzy, I came across Dr Terry Wahls TED talk “Minding Your Mitochondria” boom, whammo this was THE defining moment that I thought I have nothing to do but change the foods that I ate. No expensive supplements or therapies just real food that addresses healing the gut and reducing inflammation! Too easy I thought, I can do this!

Then I spent the next 6 weeks so frustrated and upset with giving up so many foods including my beloved nightshades. All the cookbooks and resources were geared towards the US reader which made converting recipes to our seasons and ingredients so hard and time-consuming I decided to ditch the books and create my own unique AIP Aussie style.

In the next picture I will be sharing with you how I turned the frustration of living on an elimination diet into a delicious, simple way of life, embracing the wonderful nutritious foods I could eat instead of trying to recreate the foods that were actually making me sick and inspired those around me to do the same.

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